University gender pay equality report analysed

The University of Glasgow’s annual staff equality monitoring report has been published for the Academic year 13-14 and, although some progress has been made in the way of equality and diversity, there remain deeply unsettling issues surrounding gender equality. 80% of the lowest paid employees are women and the gender pay gap between men’s average hourly pay and women’s average hourly pay that, as of April 2014, stands at an obscene 24%.

To soften the blow we’ll begin with the good points. Currently 55% of all staffing positions across the entire university are held by women and at least half the workforce in each college is made up of female staff, with the College of Medical, Veterinary, and Life Sciences leading the charge at 61.6%. Along with the current workforce, recruitment on campus is also looking positive. Although the vast majority of applicants are male, the number of successful female applicants surpasses that of males across almost all job types.

This gives the impression of a hugely diverse and progressive workforce, but these statistics are entirely misleading. Women may dominate management and administration positions, but they are horribly under-represented in senior management where only 15.4% of staff members were female in 2013-14. A number of recent appointments has seen the University begin to address this however and the figure now stands at a more credible 46%.

A similarly misleading statistic is the fact that the majority of the 144 fixed term contracts (those that allow for maternity cover among other things) are held by female staff members. However, this only makes up a measly 2% of well over 6000 contract jobs.

A significant contributor to these poor statistics is the College of Science and Engineering where 69.2% of all staff are men. Unfortunately, science and engineering has always been a boys’ club and the University of Glasgow is not alone in this problem. Indeed our own university and others have dedicated funding to actively encourage women to study STEM subjects through bursaries and scholarships. It may be an unfortunate situation but perhaps the college’s lack of gender equality is more the fault of early teaching and other societal cues rather than the current management.

Finally, as promised, the truly ugly truth laid bare. 80% of the lowest paid employees are women, while females make up only 25.7% at the highest pay grade. Considering solely professor positions at the university there has been an increase from 2010, however this increase is a miniscule victory. Currently the University of Glasgow boasts a hugely diverse student population with over half of all students, including postgraduate, being women. It is disheartening to see that this equality isn’t reflected in a workforce where only a fifth of the highest paid employees are women.

To make matters even worse there remains a large gender pay gap between men’s average hourly pay and women’s average hourly pay that, as of April 2014, stands at an obscene 24%. This massive pay gap is significantly larger than the desired 9.6% reported for the UK labour market. A inquiry into previous university equality reports reveals that little has changed in recent years despite an Equal Pay Audit in 2013 and now in 2014 an Equal Pay Action Plan to address this issue.

For an institution that openly preaches equality on campus and through its student bodies, it seems entirely hypocritical to continue with such practices amongst its own staff. The report ends by stating that information regarding the gender pay gap will be updated by April 2015. Hopefully by that time some headway will have been made.

In order to address this imbalance qmunicate asked the SRC gender equality officer, Morag Deans, whether she supported the policy of gender balanced quotas across the university. She said “A quota would help influence policy with expanded input but also assist the development and progression of underrepresented groups into professorial and other more senior roles.” She went on to say: “Gender quotas are best implemented in senior roles as it mitigates the effect of people being perceived as unqualified, which is why court committees and the senate have such potential for improvement.”

The university is currently reviewing their Athena Swan action plan to see if they will be able to implement such a policy.

[Andrew McIntyre]

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